Article written by Urban Marie « L’état de la protection sociale en Chine » Revue française d’administration publique, 2014/2 N° 150, p. 467-479. DOI : 10.3917/rfap.150.0467.
The Chinese welfare system has been gradually expanded since the early 2000s to cover the entire Chinese population. Despite extensive coverage, it is still a geographically fragmented and disparate system, which provides unequal protection depending on whether people live in urban or rural areas. People living in rural areas receive very few benefits and still depend upon family solidarity to cope with illness or old age, while migrant workers, because of their precarious status, remain largely excluded from the social welfare system. The Chinese system needs to be further reformed to guarantee greater equality in the payment of pensions and access to care, thus ensuring it is sustainable in the medium term, just as the ageing of the population is raising issues regarding its funding.
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Smith, N. R. (2014). Living on the edge: household registration reform and peri-urban precarity in China. Journal of Urban Affairs. doi: 10.1111/juaf.12107
China’s household registration system divides the nation into urban and rural populations, conditioning life chances and producing widespread inequity. Recent reform experiments in Chongqing have met with mixed success, as many residents have declined to convert to urban registration. This article ethnographically investigates the rationales and strategies of residents in Hailong, a village in Chongqing where residents were reluctant to participate in household registration reform. For Hailong residents, the state-sponsored welfare offered through urban registration was perceived as a source of exploitation and precarity. In search of stability, Hailong residents developed informal welfare strategies, including mutual support networks and economic diversification. By forcing residents to give up their land rights and adopt urban roles, household registration reform threatened these informal strategies. The article concludes by exploring the policy implications of this analysis, including the possibility of developing formal welfare programs that complement—rather than replace—informal strategies.